Our healthcare system forces us to place incredible trust and faith in physicians as the centerpiece or hub of healthcare delivery. However, a handful of physicians can wreak incredible damage on patients and healthcare at large when they play fast and loose with healthcare rules and regulations.
Ms. Wells’ share of the government’s recovery will be $424,155.
The Department of Justice announced a settlement today involving Baptist Health, the parent company for a network of affiliated hospitals and medical providers in the Jacksonville area. Baptist agreed to pay $2.5 million to settle allegations that, from September 2009 to October 2011, two neurologists in the Baptist Health network misdiagnosed patients with various neurological disorders, such as multiple sclerosis, which caused Baptist Health to bill for medically unnecessary services. Imagine being one of the patients who was misdiagnosed with MS for over a year! Although Baptist Health placed one of the physicians at issue on administrative leave in October 2011, it did not disclose any misdiagnoses to the government until September 2012.
The government’s investigation was initiated by brave whistleblower Verchetta Wells, a former Baptist Health employee. Ms. Wells’ share of the government’s recovery will be $424,155. Since January 2009, the Justice Department has recovered a total of more than $19.1 billion through False Claims Act cases, with more than $13.6 billion of that amount recovered in cases involving fraud against federal healthcare programs. The lawsuit against Baptist Health was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida and is captioned United States ex rel. Wells v. Baptist Health System Inc. et al. The Middle District of Florida is one of the largest geographic Districts in the country and one of the most productive when it comes to False Claims Act cases. Kudos to all government and private lawyers involved.